In October 2021, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) acquired the 106-acre Somers Beach property on the northwest shore of Flathead Lake with plans to add it to Montana’s state park system. The previous owners permitted public access to the property for many years. Its designation as a state park will help to perpetuate public enjoyment and access into the future.
On April 17, 2023, FWP announced it is moving forward with development plans for Somers Beach State Park on the north shore of Flathead Lake.
FWP is modifying its preferred plans for the new 106-acre state park based on public input. The development will include day-use amenities, such as trails, picnic areas, and a hand launch area for boats, as well as overnight lodging opportunity with three rental cabins. FWP will also enhance an additional 922 feet of park shoreline with an erosion control beach.
The complete development plans are outlined in a final decision notice and environmental assessment published April 17 online.
In finalizing its environmental assessment and issuing a decision notice, FWP modified the preferred development plan, Alternative C, and removed proposed tent campsites. FWP is also constructing vault latrines instead of flushing restrooms and not building an entry station or natural playground. If costs exceed available funding, the group picnic shelter and the hand launch may be excluded from construction and installed later.
In January 2023, FWP released a draft environmental assessment with three development alternatives, including a preferred alternative. FWP received 202 correspondences during a 30-day public comment period, and responses to comments are available to review in the final decision notice.
Montana’s newest state park is in an area of high recreational demand. The park is comprised of lakeshore, wetlands, floodplain, and uplands, and is situated between the federal Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area and the townsite of Somers. The intent of developing recreational amenities is to guide and enhance use in a way that minimizes visitor impacts and conserves important natural, cultural, and recreational resources. Benefits include improved accessibility, opportunities for outdoor recreation, wildlife viewing and interpretive and educational programming.
Learn more at https://fwp.mt.gov/stateparks/somers-beach.
FWP hosted a virtual informational meeting on Jan. 24, 2023 to explain the development options and answer questions.
In 2022, FWP conducted a public planning process to help guide future use and development of the site. The goal was to develop a vision that strikes an appropriate balance between providing safe, enjoyable recreational experiences with protecting fish, wildlife, habitat, and heritage resources.
To kick things off in spring, FWP conducted a public scoping survey and asked general questions about preferences, interests, and ideas for the site. There were nearly 1,300 individual responses with approximately 80% coming from the Flathead Valley.
A virtual public meeting was held March 16, 2022 via Zoom. The meeting was recorded (see below video).
FWP hosted an in-person open house on July 19, 2022 and a virtual open house on July 28. The open houses were the latest step in a public planning process and built on information gained from the spring's public survey.
Presentation: Somers Beach State Park Virtual Open House, July 28 (PDF)
Below is a timeline of key milestones since FWP's acquisition of Somers Beach:
April 17, 2023 - Decision notice and modified final environmental assssment published
July 28, 2022 - Virtual open house
July 19, 2022 - Open house planned for Somers Beach State Park development
May 12, 2022 - Gov. Gianforte cuts ribbon for new state park at Somers Beach (Public Notice)
March 2022 - FWP launches the Somers Beach planning effort (FWP Public Notice)
February 14, 2022 - FWP issues decision notice for Somers Beach State Park Erosion Structure
December 15, 2021 - FWP issues decision notice for Somers Beach State Park Interim Development
Decision Notice: Somers Beach State Park Interim Development Proposal (FWP Public Notice)
Somers Beach State Park Interim Development Proposal Draft EA (FWP Public Notice)
October 7, 2021 - FWP acquires Somers Beach property for future state park (FWP News Release)
October 29, 2020 - FWP issues decision notice for the acquisition of Somers Beach
Decision Notice: Somers Beach State Park Acquisition EA (FWP Public Notice)
FWP Regional Recreation Manager
490 N. Meridian Rd
Kalispell MT 59901